I’m one of those people who reads cookbooks. For fun. Although I love to cook without recipes a lot of the time, I also love to learn methods and get ideas for flavor combinations and new ways to cook foods that are in season and abundant.
I try to keep my collection of cookbooks to an organized minimum…one stack in the kitchen, plus a little overflow into the pantry. It’s hard to justify buying more cookbooks when we have access to an infinite supply of recipes online, and on Pinterest in particular.
But I particularly cherish my cookbooks. Today I’m going to show you a few favorites off my shelf, and after I’m done, I hope you’ll tell me about some of yours!
Starting from the bottom of the list…
From Asparagus to Zucchini
This is a favorite during CSA season. It came highly recommended by our farmers and is full of all sorts of ways to cook seasonal garden favorites, organized by ingredient.
Cooking for Friends
I got this cookbook for Christmas last year, and it’s a gem for gourmet entertaining recipes that aren’t loads of work to prepare. The recipes are specifically selected for dinner parties of all kinds, and there are fun variations on party favorites. I made tomato, feta and thyme tarts from this book for my sister’s baby shower, and they were a hit.
The FLAVOR BIBLE
This one is fun for people who know their way around the kitchen. It’s basically an encyclopedia of ingredients, with recommendations from top chefs and other eaters on which flavors pair well together. It’s an excellent reference for when you want to make up a recipe and get creative.
Betty Crocker New Cookbook
How else can I say it? Betty Crocker knows her shit. I firmly believe every kitchen needs one general, all-encompassing, classic cookbook for looking up basic recipes like marinara, roast chicken and pie crust. (Good Housekeeping and the like also do the trick) You may as well buy this one used, because the recipes really haven’t changed that drastically in the last fifty years, and they tend to have all the great features you need no matter their age–a conversion chart, a meat temperature reference and a good recipe for sugar cookies.
Don’t Panic – Dinner’s in the Freezer
An excellent cookbook for making batch recipes for freezing, a concept I highly recommend. The recipes include quantities for making double, 4x and 8x of most recipes, and has some handy tips for planning meals.
Canning for a New Generation
Mmmm, this book is full of good stuff. It’s a combination of canning recipes, organized by season, plus recipes for using the canned goods from your pantry. This is where my ketchup recipe comes from. And I’ve made the strawberry dumplings at least half a dozen times.
I love old crock pot cookbooks! This one belonged to my mom. Most recently, we made Bavarian Pot Roast, which was a beef roast cooked with apples, onions and spices. It was incredible. Another good one to pick up at the thrifts!
Any community cookbook
You can’t see the name of this cookbook in my picture (it’s the spiral bound one), but that’s sort of the point. This one is “Good Cooking Recipe Roundup”, from the Arnold Memorial Nursing Home in Adrian, Minnesota, but it’s not my only one. The thing about community cookbooks is that they’re written by experienced home cooks (mostly ladies) who share their tried and true favorites then sell the book for a good cause. These books are a great source for classic recipes, homemade bread and rolls, and are always FULL of good desserts. Written by kind-hearted ladies who really like food.
What to Have for Breakfast
I originally bought this to sell on my vintage shop, but I’m just not ready to part with it yet. Written by a sassy Victorian with the pen name Olive Green, this one clocks in as my oldest cookbook, published in 1905.
An excerpt from “How to set the table”:
“There are rumors that the pretty and sensible fashion of doilies on the bare table is on the wane, but let us hope they are untrue, or if not, that some of us may have the courage of our convictions and continue to adhere to a custom which has everything in its favor and nothing against it.”
She goes on to describe choosing a “breakfast cloth, fringed or not, as one likes” then says something about asbestos mats (at which point I caution you to see the charm but not take the advice).
You can’t just pick this one up at a book shop, but lucky for all of us, Google Books has made it available electronically. Feel free to have a look here.
There you have it; the highlights of my cookbook shelf. What’s on yours, friend?